Everything you need to know about the disastrous Cyclone Idai that hit 3 African countries

Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe were all affected by the storm.

Cyclone Idai countries
  • Cyclone Idai is being called the worst cyclone to ever hit Africa and the Southern Hemisphere.
  • It has wrecked havoc in three African countries - Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
  • Cyclone Idai's death toll is above 750 with more bodies being discovered as flood waters recede.

Heavy flooding in Southeast Africa has resulted in the disastrous Cyclone Idai. It has been identified as the worst cyclone to ever hit Africa and the Southern Hemisphere.

About 2 million people have been affected in three countries - Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Here is what we know so far:

How it all started

On March 3, 2019, there was a tropical disturbance in the Mozambique channel between Mozambique and Madagascar.

In the next two days, it turned into heavy rains that caused severe flooding across Mozambique and Malawi.

By March 11th, the rains had developed into a tropical depression that was gradually becoming an intense storm with maximum sustained winds. This happened between coastal Africa and Madagascar.

The next day, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite acquired an image of the cyclone. By this time, the potent storm had become a rapidly rotating storm system.

From March 14–15th, tropical Cyclone Idai had become a Category 2 storm with sustained winds exceeding 105 mph. It made landfall near Beira, Mozambique.

After turning the Beira city of half a million people into an inland lake, the fierce storm moved on to Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe leaving severe damage.

Within March 20th to 24th, cities have been submerged and an estimated 1,6 million people are believed to be affected by Cyclone Idai.

What is Cyclone Idai's death toll?

As of March 22, 2019, at least 242 people were said to have died in Beira, which took the full brunt of Cyclone Idai. According to aid agencies, 90% of the city has been destroyed by the storm.

President Filipe Nyusi estimates that as many as 1,000 people could be dead in Mozambique alone. "Beira is pretty much paralyzed, with many…going hungry, and without food and shelter," resident Samuel Fenis told the UN Environment Agency.

The cyclone killed at least 139 people and displaced an estimated 100,000 people in Zimbabwe, according to the UN.

Despite not crossing into Malawi, the resulting floods from the cyclone killed at least 56 people and displaced 82,700.

By March 24th, Cyclone Idai's death toll had risen above 750. In Mozambique alone, the number of dead people has gone up to 446. The U.N. children's agency estimates that 260,000 children have been affected.

According to the country's environment minister, Celso Correia, all numbers for deaths are still preliminary as more bodies are being discovered as flood waters recede.

"We're going to have to wait until the flood waters recede until we know the full expanse of the toll on the people of Mozambique," OCHA co-ordinator Sebastian Rhodes Stampa added.

He also revealed that nearly 110,000 people are now in camps with aid workers across the region bracing for the spread of diseases like cholera and malaria.

"We will have cholera, we will have malaria. It's unavoidable in this situation, so the government is opening a cholera treatment centre already," Correia told reporters.

The full extent of damage remains unknown as rescue crews are still working to help people who are still trapped in many remote, waterlogged areas.


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